April 27, 2006

BBC 2.0 - but why would you want centralised social media?

MediaGuardian reports on the BBC's foray into the world of Web 2.0 - blogs, podcasts, bookmark sharing et al.:

"The BBC today unveiled radical plans to rebuild its website around user-generated content, including blogs and home videos, with the aim of creating a public service version of MySpace.com."

I'm not sure they are actually aiming for a public MySpace.com. At this point I have to be open - I have been consulting BBC Learning and Innovation on what they might do in the education world to be part of things, rather than just reporting on it. The BBC will continue to churn out top quality content at huge budgets, but how can it take advantage of the free content out there being produced by experts both young and old?

As Hugh points out, many of us blog already, so why would we want Aunty to host a typically Aunty version of our personal space? Well, we wouldn't. However, most people using the BBC's services do not have a blog or podcast of their own. They do not share or remix video. Here, the BBC is in an enviable and sole position to convince the masses that blogging, podcasting and sharing material is a Good Thing. I can't do it. Hugh can't do it. But the BBC quite possibly can. And the BBC is working on an international scale, not just a UK one.

In learning this might mean giving free services to educators and learners, with the payoff that the BBC get all the content for free, in much the same way as the SSDN plans to do in Scotland (whence the question: what's in all this for Scotland when we've already paid for what the BBC is proposing to do down south?)

But here is my itch: the BBC and SSDN are being incredibly reactive here. Should the role of public service not be to aim at proactive action? Should we not provide ideas that might not have been done on a wide scale to improve things on a wide scale, rather than simply report back on what has already happened, where the innovation has moved on to something else?

With the MFLE that is what I have tried to do, with positive results and a lot of criticism, too, for being too innovative for the average Joe (I still don't believe this is true, though - when 30,000 new blogs are created every day and 20,000 continue for three months at least it can't be that hard.)

Can the BBC not come up with something truly innovative - new - which might fit alongside what already exists, rather than trying to brand what has already been successful? Surely the BBC - and Governments in general - can redirect funds to find the next Google Maps, the next Flickr or the next Firefox.

Then again...


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Honestly, for the most part, I'm not sure that it can. More specifically, I'm not sure that it should. I totally agree with your statement that, "the BBC is in an enviable and sole position to convince the masses that blogging, podcasting and sharing material is a Good Thing. I can't do it. Hugh can't do it. But the BBC quite possibly can." The only thing I'd add is that there are a whole bunch of ways that they could be doing that - they could be pushing the weblog as a medium of self-expression via TV and radio programmes for a start. They could be explaining new services like Flickr and MySpace. That's the main way that the French media are pushing these new areas - by talking about them and playing with them - big media and independent media talking with one another. Alongside that stuff, they could continue to make their services actually work as part of the ecology that already exists.

But then, this isn't exactly a new debate. I did a presentation to the BBC in 2002 in which I said pretty much exactly the same things - here's the Powerpoint file: Mainstream Media and Personal Publishing.

You're absolutely right, and we know so from looking at the French example. My fiancé's French but living here and does not blog. Her family and friends still in France - and who all, obviously, ressemble her to some point - do blog and use Flickr as if it were second nature, thanks to France Inter, Europe 2 and Skyblogs. Radio 4 mentions podcasts fleetingly but it's all a bit perfunctory.

Perhaps they really do see themselves as the National Bank of Media, that they must dispense everything for it to be bona fide. Worse still, their audience sees them as this. Yikes. Scary thought.

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About Ewan

Ewan McIntosh is the founder of NoTosh, the no-nonsense company that makes accessible the creative process required to innovate: to find meaningful problems and solve them.

Ewan wrote How To Come Up With Great Ideas and Actually Make Them Happen, a manual that does what is says for education leaders, innovators and people who want to be both.

What does Ewan do?

Module Masterclass

School leaders and innovators struggle to make the most of educators' and students' potential. My team at NoTosh cut the time and cost of making significant change in physical spaces, digital and curricular innovation programmes. We work long term to help make that change last, even as educators come and go.

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